What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sicko

Hey, some people up here in Canada are starting to see the light (dimly). Zoe Geddes-Soltess wrote in the Calgary Herald “Letters” page that turning down coverage of the medications Humira and Enbrel is “eerily similar to U.S. insurance companies refusing to cover so-called experimental treatments as a cost-cutting measure, and sets a frightening precedent for the future of healthcare in Alberta. Here is a news flash Zoe, this type of precedent was set here in Canada many years ago and is in no way a new phenomenon! Where is Michael Moore when we need him.
You see, Zoe, our provincial healthcare acts exactly like a U.S HMO (substitute insurance company if you like) with the exception that it is a monopoly. The insurance companies and HMO’s “cut” for profit; our provincial governments “reject” coverage to “save” tax dollars in a competing priority budget. The argument then basically comes down to the question of: 1) do you want consumer choice in deciding on your coverage? And/or 2) do you think a government monopoly can provide healthcare services more efficiently than competing private companies.
From my perspective, I want choices. I also know I must familiarize myself on the coverage contract and know exactly what I am buying from a coverage perspective. But do you have any idea of what your Alberta government Healthcare System will or will not cover? Probably not.
The problem with many of the new drugs, including new cancer therapies, is that we have very poor ways of knowing who will and who will not respond to a specific drug. This area is making huge advances but is still at infancy, so although a study may show very little benefit as a group in a trial, there are individuals within the treatment group that can show amazing benefit. However, our Canadian government healthcare programs are aimed at the average response and probabilities, and you have little choice as to whether you’re a responder or not without either digging into your own pocket and/or traveling to another country for the service. Perhaps, like the patients in the movie “Sicko”, Michael Moore could gather up a group of Canadians and take us for a little trip to Cuba.

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